The Satan’s Whiskers Cocktail

Your cocktail calendar entry for: October
12
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Today we’ve chosen the Satan’s Whiskers cocktail as Drink of the Day in order to mark the birthday of the the infamous character Aleister Crowley.  He was born on October 12, 1875 as Edward Alexander Crowley.  He ultimately became one of the world’s most famous occultists, poets, novelists, ritual magicians and mountaineers.  Crowley was busy, but decidedly out of the mainstream and notorious as as a recreational drug user, bisexual social critic.  He was widely denounced while alive, but became a cult figure after his death.

Aleister Crowley

Crowley’s father was an heir to a brewing company fortune and became an evangelist for the Plymouth Brethren, a nonconformist Christian denomination.  Young Edward himself developed an aversion to Christianity.  He changed his name to Aleister while at the University of Cambridge.  Noted for his skill at chess, he left the university before earning a degree.

Crowley also became interested in occultism, as did many other religious skeptics in the 19th century.  In 1898 he joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and learned ceremonial magic.  He followed that with a move to Boleskine House at Loch Ness in Scotland, mountaineering in Mexico, and studying Hindu and Buddhist practices in India.

Crowley honeymooned in Cairo after marriage in 1904.  He claimed a supernatural entity named Aiwass contacted him there and presented him with The Book of the Law.  That text served as the basis for his own religious sect, Thelema, whose followers should “do what thou wilt.”

His life didn’t go so well.  He had unstable relationships with both sexes, burnt through his inheritance and was addicted to heroin.  Crowley’s existence was largely hand to mouth through donations to the occult-based religious practices.  He survived for a while in the U.S., but ended up back in London and destitute.  He bounced around Europe for the rest of his life and was declared “the wickedest man in the world.”  He was even expelled from Italy by Benito Mussolini.

The bottom line is he wasn’t exactly someone most of our readers would have liked to hang out with.  So while Crowley spent his life in revolt against the moral and religious values of his time, the Satan’s Whiskers cocktail is a classic drink and good for Drink of the Day.

Satan’s Whiskers Cocktail

The Satan’s Whiskers cocktail first appeared in print in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book.  The exact history is a bit unclear.  Most cocktail historians credit its invention to the Embassy Club in Los Angeles, a swanky nightspot on Hollywood Blvd.  Their namesake drink was the Embassy cocktail.

Craddock and others describe two versions of this cocktail:  the “straight” and “curled” versions.  Their only difference is that the curled version substitutes Curacao for the Grand Marnier called for in the straight.

According to Ted Haigh in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, the majority of experts preferred the straight version, but his own taste leaned toward the curled.  At the end of the day both recipes have always coexisted so either choice is good.

The classic recipes call for equal parts gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, and orange juice, plus a half measure of either Curacao or Grand Marnier.  Our Editorial Board believes the orange juice should be minimized.  We’re going to present a variant recipe here.

The Satan’s Whiskers (Enroulée) is a creation of the late Gary ‘gaz” Regan, legendary bartender who became infamous for his classic text The Joy of Mixology as well as stirring Negronis with his finger.  He developed this basic formula after a bottle of Mandarine Napoléon appeared on his doorstep.  He tweaks the proportions from the original recipes to be a bit more spirit forward.  Our Editorial Board, bereft of this specific ingredient, substituted the more widely available Cointreau to good effect.  If you’re interested, another cocktail Gaz Regan really liked was the Trainspotter, a variation on the Brooklyn cocktail.

Satan's Whiskers cocktail

Satan's Whiskers Cocktail (Enroulée)

A classic, Prohibition era cocktail, Satan's Whiskers exists in several forms. The classic recipes call for equal parts gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, and orange juice, plus a half measure of either Grand Marnier ("straight") or Curacao ("curled"). Our recipe below is a version developed by the late, legendary bartender Gary 'gaz' Regan, in which we substitute Cointreau for the somewhat obscure Mandarine Napoleon liqueur he used. He called his version Enroulée, which is French for coiled or wound up.
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Equipment

  • Shaker
  • Nick and Nora or coupe glass

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Add all ingredients to your trusty cocktail shaker.
  • Add ice and shake until frosty cold.
  • Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with orange twist.
  • Drink.
  • Tarot reading or other occult rituals optional.
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